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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Petal Pruner

Today I finished pruning my roses and my fruit trees like a dutiful daughter finishing her chores.  It’s February, and that means that it’s time to lop off the exuberance of the past growing season while the plant is still dormant.

Except my roses never go dormant here in Austin.  All winter they put on new growth, bloom, and otherwise carry on as if it were spring.  It’s winter, I tell them, time to go to sleep, it’s way past your bedtime.  Like errant teenagers they flounce and ignore me.  Ed is no help.  He likes practicing his guitar while the roses outside the window dance and nod with appreciation.

Discipline must be enforced.  If I don’t prune them they get too big, the canes rub against each other and weaken, and I can’t barbecue or open the windows because there are plants in the way.  It’s for their own good.  It hurts me way more than it hurts them.  Where have I heard that before?

But like my own well-intentioned parents, I must bring the roses back into form.  I snip, I lop; all while the bees buzz around me gathering nectar and pollen.  Petal after petal falls into the wheelbarrow.  All the while I keep my internal mantra of “they will grow back, they will bloom again, ohmmmm” going full blast in my head lest I weaken.

There are so many things in life I don’t want to do but force myself into for the greater good.  Going to work springs to mind.  Not eating that second piece of pie.  Doing my taxes.  Driving under the speed limit.  Cleaning the cat box. Not flipping off the 432nd person to cut me off in traffic.  Confronting a friend with something unpleasant.  Scrubbing the shower.  The list goes on.  None of them earth shaking or game changing, but all things I need to gird myself up for.  All any of us want in life is to be like my roses – dance in the sun, bloom, make people smile, ignore the weather and warnings that we must sleep.  And when someone comes along and prunes us to the ground, we gather our strength and come right back even more beautiful.

I wheel the chopped roses to my compost and fork them into a bin.  I sprinkle some coffee grounds over the top and cover with leaves.  In just a few hours their remains will heat up and dance with the microbes.  The party never ends.  Now back to my taxes.